Author's Note: This came about from the AlbusandMinerva board. (Yes, another plot bunny attack!) bdaugherth asked if anyone had written any AD/MM fics for Beltane, which was April 30/May 1, so the premise for this belongs to her. For those that are unfamiliar with Beltane it is a celtic/pagan/Wiccan holiday celebrating the start of summer, fertility, and birth/rebirth. It marks the sacred marriage of the God and Goddess. I will write more explanations into the story itself. Also woo-fish (Happy Reader!) thought up a similar situation for Hogwarts, so I want to acknowledge her as well. (I still would like to read what you've come up with, if any!) There will be a lemon, hopefully in chapter three, so bring some tequila and salt! As for the title, I used the Scottish term for Beltane in honor of our dear Minerva!

Light the Bealltuinn Fires

Chapter 1

"Headmaster, I am at a loss for words," stated Peter Flutterby, professor of herbology. "All of my plants are dying! It's spring, they should be flourishing, but nothing I do seems to work."

Armando Dippet sat with fingers steepled at the head of the table in the staff room listening intently to the poor professor's plight. "Have you found any evidence that the greenhouses have been tampered with?" he finally asked.

"No, sir. I have not detected any signs of a spell or curse. I've tried everything from growth potions to spelled potting soil, all to no avail. How am I supposed to teach my classes?" Flutterby was clearly becoming agitated.

"Calm yourself, Peter," the headmaster soothed. "We will get to the bottom of this. Does anyone have any suggestions?"

Albus Dumbledore, acclaimed professor of transfiguration, spoke up. "Have you tried moving the plants to another location? If there is a curse on the greenhouses, moving them out would be a possible remedy."

Flutterby's eyes lit up. "I hadn't thought of that! Thank you, Albus. Hopefully that will do the trick."

Dippet smiled hopefully. "Good idea, Professor. Does anyone else have any pressing issues?"

The newly appointed Care of Magical Creatures teacher, Professor Kettleburn, raised his hand shyly. "I have been trying to breed a pair of jobberknolls since the start of the school year and little over a week ago I discovered a clutch of eight eggs in their roost. I've been checking on their development every other day and all seemed to be progressing nicely, until yesterday, when I noticed that two of the embryos had not grown since I last checked. A couple of spells revealed both were dead. Also, the hippogriffs are in mating season, but so far none are pregnant. That is odd considering they are normally quite fertile and known for their prolific reproduction. I had thought perhaps the two incidences might be connected."

Dippet sat motionless in thought for a few moments before addressing his staff. "There is definitely something amiss here, professors. I do not think all these occurrences are coincidental. I will contact the Ministry and in the meantime we shall all keep our eyes sharp. Report anything else you feel is out of the ordinary. Any other concerns?" The teachers looked to one another and shook their heads. "Then you are free to go."
A few days later, Albus was going over essays in his office. It was a Saturday, but he needed to get them marked before Monday's classes and couldn't put it off any longer. Someone knocked on his door. "Come in!" he called.

Peter Flutterby walked in with a grave face. "I tried your suggestion, Albus, but with no such luck. I got the same results."

"Then most likely whatever is affecting the plants is not limited to the greenhouses, which would link your problem to William's."

Flutterby moved to look out of the window and down onto the grounds. "He lost two more jobberknoll eggs and the hippogriffs have stopped mating all together. That's not all. Take a look at this." He indicated that Albus should look out the window.

"Do you notice anything different about the trees?" Flutterby asked as his colleague moved next to him. Albus looked at the trees and, at first, noticed nothing unusual. Upon closer inspection, he saw that they were losing their color and were drooping slightly.

"They are dying as well. Has this been brought to the headmaster's attention?"

Flutterby nodded. "A couple of prefects mentioned it to him. It seems that whatever's happening is becoming noticeable to the students."

"I heard the Ministry is sending over some aurors," Albus said, stepping away from the window to return to his desk. "Perhaps they'll be able to pick up on something."

"You haven't detected any curses or what not, have you? Surely you would be able to feel something." Flutterby and many of the other professors valued the transfiguration teacher's advice, almost as much as the headmaster's. It was also no secret that Albus was one of the most powerful wizards of their time.

Albus gently shook his head. "You give me too much credit, Peter, I cannot sense spells any better than you."

Flutterby was about to express a difference of opinion when a shout came from behind Albus' door.

"Professor Dumbledore, are you in there!" came a young man's urgent voice.

Albus rushed to the door and pulled it open. Thaddeus Lynch, Head Boy and jewel of Ravenclaw, stood just outside, out of breath and panicking.

"What is the matter?" asked Albus.

"It's Professor Stephens! She collapsed just down the hall!"

Both professors left the room and quickly followed Lynch down the hall and around a corner. A crowd had formed around the unconscious astronomy teacher.

"Clear out, please! Give her some air!" Albus shouted. The students immediately made way for the two professors and the Head Boy. "Has anyone gone to fetch Madame O'Connor?"

"Yes, sir," answered Lynch. "I sent Lydia Seeton when we first found her."

Albus nodded and checked the elderly professor over. Her breathing was shallow and her face was losing its color. He could barely make out a pulse. Within minutes the mediwitch arrived and took over the situation. A stretcher was brought in and she was taken away to the hospital wing.

"Thaddeus, what happened?" Albus asked.

"We were just walking along the hall when she appeared to be out of breath. I stopped to ask if she was okay and then she collapsed. She's not going to die, right, Professor Dumbledore?" The poor boy was clearly distraught over his head of house.

"She will be in good hands. I'm sure she will be just fine. Now run along and enjoy the rest of your weekend."

"Thanks, Professor." With a nod to Flutterby, he was off. The two professors stared at each other, both trying to make sense of what was going on at their school.

"My plants are dying and I can grow nothing. Kettleburn's animals have become infertile and now Professor Stephens collapses. It is as if something is sucking the very life out of Hogwarts," said Flutterby, finally.

Albus moved to look into one of the many painting that hung in the hallway. It was a landscape and his brow furrowed as he discerned that the trees had become withered and gnarled. The lake in the center of the painting was unnaturally still and the birds that normally flew over sat unmoving on the ground. Some of the birds even appeared dead. He turned and gravely faced his fellow teacher.

"Something or someone?" asked Albus.

The herbology professor's eyes widened in disbelief. "Surely you don't mean Grindelwald! What would that black sorcerer want with Hogwarts?"

"This school is in many ways more protected than the Ministry itself. It would prove him to be a formidable adversary if he were to bring down Hogwarts."

"But how?"

Before Albus could answer, Professor Kettleburn came rushing towards them. "The headmaster has called an emergency staff meeting," he said.

"Have you heard about Ophelia?" Flutterby asked him as they made their way to the staff room.

"No, has something happened?"

"She simply collapsed while walking down the hallway. She's in the hospital wing now."

Kettleburn looked agitated and voiced what was on all their minds. "What the hell is going on?"
Armando Dippet had been know to be a bit flighty at times, but when faced with difficult situations he always remained calm and professional. His staff, however, was finding it rather hard. Apparently, everyone had now witnessed something odd happening about the school and they all wanted to express themselves at the same time.

"Please, professors, quiet down," he shouted over the din. They complied immediately. "Thank you. I know you each have something to say, but please bear with me. Firstly, how is Professor Stephens, Madame?"

The school's mediwitch, Brenna O'Connor, stood to address the room. "I have recommended that she be moved to St. Mungo's for further evaluation, but from what I gathered, she fainted from exhaustion."

"Exhaustion, are you sure?" inquired Dippet.

"Judging by her vitals, it's as if she had been up for days without any sleep and her body just couldn't take it anymore. I know the astronomy classes have been up late recently, but I have no reason to believe that her sleep pattern was affected. My instincts tell me that there is something else at work here." Many others agreed with her and voiced their own concerns.

"The plants in my office have all died."

"I've been feeling more tired lately."

"Several students have told me that their animals have become lethargic and unresponsive."

"The portraits are even acting strangely and the vegetation in the landscapes are wilting!"

The headmaster stood and raised both arms in an effort to settle down his employees. "Ladies and gentlemen, silence, if you please? I know all of you are deeply troubled by all these events. I have contacted the Ministry and they have agreed to send over a team of aurors to investigate, as well as, a representative from the Department of Mysteries. William, if you would be so kind as to open the door, I believe they are waiting right outside."

Kettleburn nodded and made his way to the door. Five people entered and stood near Dippet. Albus carefully studied the two witches and three wizards the team consisted of. He recognized one of the wizards as one he'd met him before while visiting auror headquarters a few years back and thought him to be a capable fellow. The young witch that entered last captured his attention the most. She couldn't have been more than twenty, but she stood with an air of confidence that belied her age. Her black hair was pulled back into a rather severe looking bun that, in his opinion, didn't do her justice. The headmaster had started introducing the others, but Albus was too mesmerized by her to pay him any mind. He was caught staring when her brown eyes met his blue ones. She smiled slightly at him before looking once again at Dippet. Realization dawned on him when he saw that smile. It had been nearly two years since he'd last seen it and he felt his heart quicken, involuntarily, in response.

"And lastly," Dippet intoned, "junior auror, Minerva McGonagall. I'm sure many of you remember from her school days here and I must say I'm very please to have our former Head Girl back."

Minerva smiled sweetly at the headmaster and the blush that crept onto her cheeks suited her rather nicely. "Thank you, sir."

"I trust that all of you will cooperate fully and offer assistance should they require any. That will be all for today." Dippet then exited with the witch who was from the Dept. of Mysteries.

Albus was lost in his own thoughts when he heard her voice in front of him. "Hello, Professor Dumbledore," she said with a shyness that was so out of character.

He rose to greet her. "Miss McGonagall, how wonderful to see you again. How is your training going?"

"Very well, sir, though I am surprised I was asked to be a part of this investigation. I'm only a junior auror after all."

Albus shook his head. "Why should you be surprised? You're one of the most intelligent witches I know. It would have been foolish not to include you."

Her cheeks were becoming pink again. "Thank you, professor. Are things here really as bad as we've been told?"

"I am afraid so, Miss McGonagall." One of the other aurors approached and greeted Albus. "How have you been, Louis?" asked the professor.

"As well as I'm ever going to be, Dumbledore!" Louis was a rough looking wizard in his late fifties, with deep lines in face and salt-and- pepper hair. He nodded toward Minerva. "Catching up with your former student?"

"Yes, she was an outstanding pupil."

Louis patted the young witch on the shoulder. "She still is! She's picked more things in one year than I ever learned in three!"

"Please, stop flattering me, gentlemen," Minerva implored, laughing softly.

"Alright, alright," cried Louis. "We best get this investigation underway. I'll see you around, Dumbledore." He left to join their other colleague, leaving Albus and Minerva alone.

"Perhaps, duties permitting, you would care to join me for tea later this evening?" Albus asked, eyes twinkling merrily.

"I would love to, Professor." She smiled widely and his heart began to race again.

"Call me, Albus," he told her as she moved away from him.

She stopped walking and turned to flash one last smile. "Then I must also ask that you call me, Minerva."

A/N: This is the set up for the rest of the story. Please review! I'd love to hear what you think. :- )